Friday, 5 February 2016

Resplendent Quetzal

Cordillera de Talamanca
Costa Rica
25 January 2016

     If one bird could be said to be synonymous with a birder's view of Costa Rica, and the species most sought after, it would doubtless be the Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno. 

     We were fortunate to encounter at least three individuals, a single female and a mated pair.

      Not only did we locate the birds we were able to observe them for about a half hour. The male especially, moved around and treated us to a tremendous display; if we lost it for a moment it reappeared in all its glory.

     We then realized that the female was busy at a nest hole and we quietly departed. We had no desire to disturb a breeding pair.

     It was a magical encounter with a bird that is almost mystical in the minds of many. It was revered by the ancient Mayans and its plumes were reserved for the robes of only those of high rank. It was considered a transgression punishable by death to kill a quetzal, so the bird was captured, the tail feathers were removed and it was released.
     There is more than a little irony in the fact that the bird is the national symbol of Guatemala and appears on its flag, but has virtually been extirpated in that country - somewhat akin perhaps to the bear on the state flag  of Calfornia, where nary a bear exists any more. As humans we can never be accused of not doing strange things.


  1. What a splendid pair David,lovely captures,and a privilege to see.
    Look forward to seeing more,thank you for sharing.

  2. Que suerte poder observar a un Quetzal en su medio natural, las fotografías son fantásticas. Un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España.

    1. Muchas gracias, Germán. Usted tiene ir a Costa Rica!

  3. É lamentável, David, que os mais belos espécimes de nosso planeta tenham sido extintos, por serem belos e enfeitarem a Natureza!
    O seu trabalho é de grande relevância em divulgar essas notícias.
    Suas imagens são encantadoras!

  4. Indeed, a magical and almost mythical encounter Mr G. Those colourful exoticas almost jump out of the binoculars don't they? So soon back to the little brown jobs and normality though as the holiday fades into distant memory. Lots more colourful pictures to come I hope?

    Meanwhile we suffer yet another storm sent across the seas by our generous Transatlantic friends. One of these days the winds will change and then I'll send them right back.

  5. What a beautiful birds David, you've made great pictures of them.
    Have a nice weekend. Gr Jan W

  6. Magnifique David, j'aimerai aller au Costa Rica, les oiseaux y sont splendides ! Quelle chance d'avoir fait cette rencontre magique.
    Merci !

  7. Has to be the nest name of any bird in the world. Ever.

  8. Hello David!:) What a privilage to observe this most beautiful Quetzal in it's natural surroundings. The exquisite tail plumage and vibrant overall colour is
    breathtaking. I'm pleased you were able to see both male and female birds.:)

  9. Replies
    1. With great respect Bob, it is a trogon not a parrot.

  10. What do they have there pretty colorful birds.
    Wonderful to see David.
    Greetings Tinie

  11. A fabulous bird, David! I bet you had fun trying to take photos that included that long tail of the male bird - natural instinct is to point at the body! Well done! I look forward with eager anticipation to the next installment.

  12. Wowww ....... great!
    Truly a wonderful bird.
    Very nice that you could get it on the photo and share with us :-)))))

  13. What a great sighting of these gorgeous birds! The feathers and the colours are amazing.

  14. The sacred bird of the Mayas and Aztecs, a beauty. Can watch them is a dream for all ornithologist, you have been very fortunate to be so close to them and take some photographs.